MNP: NCC blames operators
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has blamed telecoms operators for the undue delays in the take-off of subscriber identity module (SIM) number portability, warning that the regulator would not hesitate to wield a big stick.
Speaking at the Telecoms Executives and Regulator Forum 2012, organised by the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) at Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi, Lagos, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the NCC, Dr Eugene Juwah, accused the operators of delaying the implementation of the scheme, arguing that none of them has upgraded their billing system, pre-requisite for the take off the scheme, warning that as regulator, when appeal fails, resort to sanction becomes inevitable.
Juwah assured that SIM number portability will happen first quarter next year, adding that it is going to be implemented after a thorough test so that it does not end ‘in a fiasco’.
Said he, “Delays in mobile number portability are not attributable to the regulator. Each of them (operators) has something they have not completed. There is committee with KPGM, London, the consultant to the project and share note. NCC is pushing it but the operators are not,” he said.
“As a regulator, we can appeal. If appeal fails, we will wield the big stick. None of the operators have upgraded their billing systems. We are going to test (the process very) well, after that, we start. It is better not start mobile number portability at all than to start it and fail,” the EVC said.
According to Juwah, mobile number portability is a tool that will help deepen competition in the industry, adding that the process, along with ongoing SIM card registration are complementary because for any subscriber to port his or her number, the particulars of such subscriber is sine qua non.
“The clearing house is ready. We are waiting for the operators to start,” he said.
On a recent ban on promos, he said the decision was taken in the interest of the subscribers and the industry, adding that if the regulator had not stepped in when it did, it would have been catastrophic. “The promos were getting ridiculous. Everybody was doing promo, some of them, if you pay N100, they give you N500 service (airtime). It was actually suicidal, tending to destroy the industry. Apart from that, because they have lowered the call price of calling so much, everybody was calling. So everybody was calling and the network was getting congested. So, the regulator, the NCC, has to step in (to avert the disaster),” said.
He urged Nigerians to begin to have positive thinking about the telecoms sector, especially as it concerns the issue of service quality. According to Juwah, power supply situation is worse than the telecoms service quality issue, wondering why that of telecom sector is given undue hype. He added that if a subscriber tries calling for three times, there is the possibility that the call will succeed, urging the Nigerians to change their negative perception of the issue.